"Fine...I'd like to know what need there is to take care of a girl your age as if she was a baby."

"If you hadn't come, I would have set fire to the apartment. I had already prepared the can of gasoline and the pile of sheets."

The young woman shrugs her shoulders and says: "Don't you go to school?"



"No. Why should I?"

"Oh, to learn something."


"What a job!" JR thinks, as she walks back and forth in the room. She approaches the large bay window, raises the curtain, returns to the prone body which now rolls across the red carpet as if it were suffering from epileptic convulsions. She feels like giving it a good kick.

"Oh, I don't know," she says, "variable equations, or the captital of Maryland..."

"Annapolis!" the little girl shrieks. "That's too easy. Ask another question."

"Who killed Lincoln?"

"John Wilkes Booth."

"How many seconds are there in a day?"

"Eighty-six thousand four hundred and twenty."

"What's an ulva?"

"A genus of green seaweed."

"What do little girls dream of?"

"Knives...and blood!"

"Where are the women we love?"

"In the grave."

"How old are you?"

"Thirteen and a half."

"What do you see from the windows of this apartment?"

"Central Park."

(That's what it had looked like to me.)

"Is this part of it lit?"

"Yes, dimly... There's a streetlamp."

"And what can be seen near the streetlamp?"

"Three people."

"Of which sex?"

"Two men, a woman... She's wearing pants and a cap, but you can see her breasts under her sweater."

"What is this lady's name?"

"Her name--or at least what they call her-- is Joan Robeson, or sometimes Robertson too."

"What does she do?"

"She's one of the fake nurses who works for Doctor Morgan, the psychoanalyst whose office is in the Forty-second Street subway station. The other nurses are blond, and..."

"But what is she doing here, now in the bushes bordering the park, with those two men. And who are those two men?"

"That's easy: one is Ben-Saïd, the other is the narrator.